First edition of Darwin's On the Origin of the Species sells for world record-breaking amount

By Lucy Todman | Shrewsbury | Shrewsbury entertainment | Published:

More than 160 years after publication, a first edition of On the Origin of the Species, written by Shrewsbury's most famous son, has sold for a world record-breaking amount in America.

Charles Darwin

The book was written by Charles Darwin in 1859 and was priced at fifteen shillings with a first printing run of 1,250 copies.

The top lot of the sale, held by Chicago auction house Hindman Books & Manuscripts, set a world auction record. Realizing £440,549 ($564,500), the Garden Copy, previously owned by American philanthropist Paul Mellon, sold for more than double the presale estimate of £93,651-£140,476 ($120,000- $180,000).

Gretchen Hause, director of fine books and manuscripts: “Active bidding across all channels combined to energize the room and the strong prices realized reinforce the strength of the market for fine copies of the most significant works in a variety of collecting fields. We are thrilled with the exceptional results, setting a record sale total for the department.”

In June, a presentation copy of the book sold for £390, 271 ($500,075). The book was originally owned by German botanist Robert Caspary, who received the book from Darwin.

The first edition

Last month , a first edition copy of the book sold for £162,500.

The text, described as one of the most important books ever published for its groundbreaking work on the theory of evolution, was valued at £40,000 to £60,000.

The auction at Lyon and Turnbull in Edinburgh attracted bidders from across the globe.

The book snet ripples around the world when Darwin put forward his theory of evolution by natural selection as a very gradual mechanism of change within populations. He postulated that new species could be the product of this very same process, but over even longer periods of time.

He indicated that species could form by the evolution of one species splitting into two, or via a population diverging from its extant ancestor to the point it was a new species.

Lucy Todman

By Lucy Todman

Senior reporter for the Shropshire Star and Shrewsbury Chronicle based in Shrewsbury.


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